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Toy Libraries


Working of Toy LibrariesI live in a miniscule apartment in Mumbai, where, needless to say, we experience a constraint of space. Imagine my horror when I realised that my daughter was growing up and was now old enough to start demanding toys in lieu of books, cuddles, and pots and pans from the kitchen. At first, I indulged her and started stocking up on basic toys for her age group – the mandatory blocks, kitchen set, doctor set, train set, etc. But I soon realised that there was no end to the number of toys that she wanted and needed and there was no space in our house to accommodate her requests; besides which so many toys were one-time plays, like puzzles. It was then that I was introduced to the wonderful world of toy libraries!

These are mushrooming all over the big cities and make real sense for today’s children who live in small houses and have short attention spans. This is how they work: you become a member at a toy library by paying a membership fee and then they have an additional fixed monthly or quarterly charge, for instance. Using your membership, you can borrow a number of toys that can be kept for a certian period of time and then exchanged for fresh toys.For example, I am the member of a great toy library called Playsmart in Walkeshwar. For Rs. 500 a month, I can pick 3 toys a week – that is, 12 toys a month! And these are high-quality, educational, Montessori toys I am talking about.
Playsmart stocks well-made, generally wooden, imported educational toys that are fun to play with, and at the same time aim at teaching children important concepts, appropriate to their age group. They have toys for children as young as one year old (for colour recognition, shapes, motor development, etc.) to six-year old (puzzles, life cycles, scientific facts, etc.). They also have ‘fun’ toys so you don’t have to always thrust only thinking games upon your child.

These toy libraries are great for a number of reasons – in my case, I can get 12 top-end toys for Rs. 500 a month; each of which would cause at least Rs. 800-1000 if I had to buy it. I am supplying my daughter with a constant stream of new toys, without having to find the space to store them. Additionally, since these are educational in nature, I am also stimulating her curiosity and encouraging her intellectual development. And the biggest benefit for me – it is more fun for me to play at these toys with her than the boring and same old kitchen and doctor sets! Tip: To find the toy library that is closest to you, just go to Google! There is an astonishing number listed there. But do check out a few before registering at any.

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Kritika Srinivasan is an Editor at ParentEdge. She has her hands full with an active young child and her writing. She is keenly interested in ways to engage and stimulate children to keep their lively and intelligent minds busy.